Peterhead boss Jim McInally admitted he was gutted for his players after they crashed out of the Scottish Cup at Stark’s Park on Saturday.
The Blue Toon were comfortably beaten on their previous two visits to Kirkcaldy this season - but it was a different story on Saturday as they pushed Raith Rovers all the way.
In the end Raith were simply relieved to get through, leaving McInally proud of his players’ efforts but bitterly disappointed that two crucial penalty appeals - for a foul on Ben Armour by keeper Ross Munro and a handball against Kyle Benedictus - didn’t go the visitors’ way.
He said: “First and foremost we’re beaten. I don’t want to come in and blow our trumpet because we’re out the cup and we’re disappointed in that.
“But I did say earlier in the week I wanted to come here and get the respect of Raith Rovers because I don’t think gave us it after we beat them two weeks ago. That was a wee bit of motivation for us, for the players before the game.
“Although we lost, we’ve lost basically because of refereeing errors, that’s the bottom line.
“The first one’s a stonewall penalty, the goalie trips him, and the second one his arm actually stops the ball going in the net. A handball in the box, regardless of where it is, is a penalty kick.
“But I’m proud of the players, of their attitude to come and do that to a full-time team after the way we’ve lost the two games that we’ve lost here.
“We could have been three or four up in the first 10 minutes, just with the way we started the game. The annoying thing is that their goal came from a mistake, but the good thing for me about that is Jason [Brown] never let it bother him.
“It’s bothered him before here, but he kept on playing and was part of a team that played well.
“We were prepared to play man for man against them today and that was probably the difference. We were strong, the back four were terrific again and in the middle of the park it was a great team effort and I’m so gutted we lost that game because I don’t think we deserve to be out of the cup.
“But as I said to the referee after the game he’s the biggest reason we’re out of the cup.
“They changed their shape three or four times, John’s a good manager, that’s what he does and he’ll be delighted they’re through. At the end of the day that’s all that matters.”
With dreams of a cup run over for another year Peterhead return to league business this Saturday with a trip to Station Park to play Forfar Athletic.